[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers. This article is sponsored by Cottage Health System, a Partners in Education President’s Council member.]
As an SAT and ACT tutor, Gloria Fletcher has had an abundance of experience working with high school-aged students. But for Fletcher, this experience was not enough. She decided to give back to local teenagers by joining Santa Barbara Partners in Education as a volunteer mock job interviewer through its Volunteer Recruitment & Coordination program.
Upon moving to Santa Barbara, Fletcher became occupied with establishing her business, so getting involved with the community seemed like a smart idea for a number of reasons.
“I was interested in getting a feel for the local high schools and their students,” she explained. “I particularly enjoy the energy and vibrancy of teenagers and have volunteered over the years in my children’s schools, and always found it rewarding.”
Fletcher has always felt that working with teenagers can be enlightening and fun.
“I enjoy an easy rapport with young people and have two children who are university students,” she said. “I have worked as a tutor for eight years and have found that by the time they are high school juniors, students are getting more serious about their education and future. It’s gratifying to help them reach their goals.”
While volunteering in the community was partly a strategic business decision, Fletcher finds participating in mock job interviews personally rewarding, as well.
“Because I am establishing my business in a new area, I had recently done research on résumé writing, interviewing and cold calling,” she said. “(Mock job interviewing) seemed like a natural fit to try to pass some of my expertise on to those who might benefit from it.
“Practicing interviews in the more relaxed setting of their own school and getting advice from caring adults will, hopefully, enable and encourage these students to seek out internships, as well as other employment opportunities.”
Being properly prepared for an interview is a skill that Fletcher believes to be vital for all students trying to enter the workforce. She said she hopes to teach her students the importance of making a positive first impression.
“Interviewing is very stressful, and image and presentation are vital,” Fletcher said. “The student has a very short time to make a positive impression with their appearance, attitude and résumé, and I felt any competitive edge would be valuable.”
Fletcher believes that the skills students learn in mock interviews will continue to benefit them for the entirety of their careers.
“Having successful work experience to add to their résumé and an employer who would provide a positive reference might enable their acceptance to college or in finding a job after high school,” she continued. “With the tough economy and jobs for young people being scarce, this program could make a big impact on the lives of these students.”
Fletcher encourages other professionals to become involved in the school systems to ensure the success of students today.
“Showing that adults care about their futures and are interested in their success may stimulate students to seek positions that they may not have had the confidence to seek out otherwise,” she said. “If professional adults come in contact with them, believe in their abilities and give them tips about how to present themselves in the most favorable manner, they are more likely to succeed.”
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— Michaela Ford is a senior at Santa Barbara High School and a Santa Barbara Partners in Education intern through the Partners Job Readiness & Internship Program. Partners in Education programs are administered under the Santa Barbara County Education Office.